Follow Jesus, they said. It’ll make your life better, they said.
Okay, maybe nobody said that. Maybe that’s just what I heard.
Except that what I first heard was from Jesus.
“Come,” He said. “Just as you are,” He said.
So I did. I jumped right in and felt the love of a God who required nothing of me.
Except that I soon learned that God did require things. Things like:
Obedience, which I translated into Always Doing the Thing I Didn’t Want To Do.
Holiness, which I translated into Never Doing a Wrong Thing Ever Again.
Trust, which I translated into Never Worrying About Anything in My Life Ever Again (or at least Not Telling Anyone If I Do Worry).
Faith, which I translated into Always Having the Right Answer Even If I’m Not Sure Myself What the Answer Is (also Never Having Doubts or Questions About What I Believe).
And then Something happened. A Something so big that it requires a capital letter.
These things that I thought about following Jesus didn’t ensure a good life. In fact, life got the worst it possibly could get and I wondered what I did wrong. I thought I was following Jesus. Wasn’t my faith supposed to be a shield from these kinds of difficulties? Didn’t these sorts of things only happen to people who didn’t have Jesus in their lives?
The big Something was more than five years ago now, but I’m still asking those questions. And the things I thought I knew about following Jesus are less certain now. It’s like I had a jar full of faith trinkets and someone dumped it out and scattered the contents all over the house and now I’m still picking up the pieces and deciding what to put back in the jar. (Or if I even need the jar at all.)
I’m sorting it out, as Sarah Bessey calls it in her new book Out of Sorts (review of the book is in a separate post). I’m wrestling with questions I didn’t think to have all those years ago, and while I sometimes want to discard my early years of following Jesus all together, I know that some of those beliefs and actions are valuable, even if just as reminders of where I was at the time. We don’t have to junk family heirlooms simply because they’re old.
But some of those former ways are damaged and it’s time to toss them.
I wish I could tell you for sure what I believe about following Jesus today. Or what it will look tomorrow or five years from now. It’s ever-changing, and that’s okay, because my life is ever changing. Just because God is not changing doesn’t mean my understanding of Him won’t change.
Even writing those words feels sinful sometimes. Am I supposed to change what I believe about God and living out my faith?But what I was supposed to do never saved me and it never will. Click To Tweet
If I’ve learned anything about following Jesus it’s that it’s all about following Him. Shocking, right? I’m no longer interested in following a set of rules if it means I lose Jesus in the process. I’m no longer certain that there’s only one way to follow Him, only one way to be a Christian. To be honest, there are a whole lot more things I don’t know than I do know. Maybe I’ve lost my religion, a la R.E.M., or maybe not.
What I do know is this: I haven’t lost Jesus.
And I’m still sorting it out.
That used to terrify me, the unraveling of my faith, the questions about what I believe.
Now, though, I welcome it.
The questions don’t scare me anymore. Most of the time, they make my faith stronger.
Following Jesus doesn’t mean what I thought it meant. And that’s more than okay.
To celebrate the launch of her new book, Sarah Bessey is hosting a syncroblog on the topic of “I used to think ____ but now I think____.” Head over to Sarah’s blog to join the conversation.
How has what you believe changed over time?